From Classroom to Control Room: Music & Technology Alumnus Rob May '13 Composes Career at MSNBC
Rob May entered Stevens in 2009 with his mind set on music.
“I’ve always had a passion for music, so studying and finding a career as an audio engineer made sense,” he said. “I knew I wanted to go to the Music & Technology program at Stevens because it’s filled with entrepreneurs and other types of engineers, and I think they were the perfect people to work with.”
A native Pennsylvanian, May grew up teaching himself about amplifiers, mixers and microphones, and spent his high school years rewiring guitars for the school’s bands. When he arrived to Stevens, he knew that a career in audio engineering would require hands-on experience in addition to his classroom instruction.
“I completed four internships as a student, starting with a summer morning show position at a radio station in central Pennsylvania in 2010,” he said. “I also interned at Electric Lady Studios in the summer of 2011, which was originally Jimi Hendrix’s West Village studio, and Avatar Studios in midtown Manhattan during the summer of 2012.”
May was also active at Stevens and the Hoboken community, serving as the president of on-campus radio station WCPR and doing live sound each summer for the City of Hoboken during their summer concert series.
“My experiences working with radio shows, live sound, the concert series, and redesigning, building, and using the recording space at WCPR really helped me excel in class and with personal audio projects,” he said.
With the help of Stevens’ Office of Career Development, May landed a yearlong internship with NBC Network Broadcast Operations during his senior year. This internship exposed him to the world of audio engineering for the fast-paced environment of television network broadcasting, which he believes led to a career in the industry.
“I looked for opportunities anywhere I could find them,” he said. “I feel that anywhere you can apply your unique blend of skills can end up being a path to your dream job.”
After graduation, May secured an audio engineering position at MSNBC, where he currently mixes audio for live and taped programming.
“I manage everything aural that relates to what’s on screen, which includes checking the host and guest microphones, balancing and cleaning up all of the signals both in studio and remote, and cueing and playing all of the show music,” he said. “The goal is to make everything sound natural and fluid, and make sure that what you’re hearing corresponds well with what you’re seeing.”
May believes the combination of his classes at Stevens and internship experiences, in addition to his secondary concentration in philosophy, were key to his success after graduation.
“My Sound Recording and Sound Design classes were a great preparation for working in television audio,” he said. “In the Sound Recording series we got to interact with professional bands we recorded and mixed together as a team, and I see now that people skills can really set you apart in the workplace.”
Most important, May sees learning as an ongoing part of the process to success.
“I’ve learned that it’s important to be bold and confident, but not to be afraid to ask questions!” He said. “I’ve made some of my best impressions not by knowing a lot, but by asking the right questions. When people realize that you’re eager to learn, they’re much more likely to bring you in and teach you.”
To learn more about the Music & Technology program at Stevens, visit www.stevens.edu/musictech.
About Stevens Institute of Technology
Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation University®, is a premier, private research university situated in Hoboken, N.J. overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Founded in 1870, technological innovation has been the hallmark and legacy of Stevens’ education and research programs for more than 140 years. Within the university’s three schools and one college, more than 6,100 undergraduate and graduate students collaborate with more than 350 faculty members in an interdisciplinary, student-centric, entrepreneurial environment to advance the frontiers of science and leverage technology to confront global challenges. Stevens is home to three national research centers of excellence, as well as joint research programs focused on critical industries such as healthcare, energy, finance, defense and STEM education and coastal sustainability. The university is consistently ranked among the nation’s elite for return on investment for students, career services programs and mid-career salaries of alumni. Stevens is in the midst of a 10-year strategic plan, The Future. Ours to Create., designed to further extend the Stevens legacy to create a forward-looking and far-reaching institution with global impact.